So, I’m gonna wait until I’ve finished the game (and probably watched some of those videos) to properly consider the themes, but: While I agree that moment totally recontextualised the game, my personal feelings are more in line with the slugcat I drew. I’ll definitely see how I go over the rest of the game, but as it stands, I think it was more interesting before I understood language.
Well, I’ve given it a shot. Insert “I have no idea what I’m doing” here. Kinda fascinating and a lot of cool design implementations, like the map.
Current update: Have any of your ever learnt a word and been like “well, I’m never going to use that, but cool that I know it now,” and then years later suddenly find a reason to use it? Just had that experience with “Lagomorph”
I use that word often but that’s mostly because my family has a rabbit
So, I’ve finished the game now, and my thoughts on it are… complicated. First of all, I’d like to say that even at its worst, Rain World is an excellent game. My frustration mainly comes from that, to me, the game is at it’s best when it does less, not more, and at it’s best I’d say it’s truly something special. (Content Warning Food for a metaphor here) It’s like having an amazing main, but with too many sides. They’re great sides, maybe I’d even have them as a whole meal on their own! But together, I have to force myself to get through it all, and they cover up the taste of the main.
I know this isn’t the first time I’ve come out of a piece of media feeling this way, so it might just be a me problem, and I definitely am interested to discuss y’all’s opinions about the game. One thing that came to mind first off though, have any of you read 17776 by Jon Bois?
I read the beginning of 17776, and need to continue it. I can definitely see where you’re relating it to this.
I can see where you’re coming from, even if I ultimately have a different feeling about it. For me, all those side parts, while they may dilute this more “pure” experience that the game was embodying without them. (Unless you’re talking about stuff like the jackalopes being a pain to navigate with. That’s really frustrating for sure. There are definitely some mechanical elements like that that I think could use some refinement.)
In specific, you seemed to gesture at this feeling that being able to understand language and getting glimpse of more of the lore kinda watered it down for you? Question: did you engage with any of the pearls with Moon? But for me, that lore transformed the game for me. It contextualized my frustrating and difficulties throughout the game into a worldview I didn’t even know I was beginning to hold. And importantly, despite starting to learn more about the world, Rain World’s world never gets any less mysterious. Some questions are answered. But you also discover new questions, questions that are even more chilling and puzzling than the questions you had before.
I took the pearl from above Five Pebbles to Moon, and was gonna do more 'cos I was annoyed with both the observer and Pebbles, but when I realised the pearls I’d given away weren’t gonna respawn I decided to just look it up after.
Probably too much text
For me, the best parts of the game was about playing as a wild animal. Early on, I had the impression that the slugcats were only a few inches tall at most (the lizards being skink or gecko sized in this interpretation). Of course, that didn’t really hold up once I met the interface of a godlike AI and found it was the same size as me, but I’m gonna start from that point to try and explain what I saw in the game.
Consider this for an example: when a spider catches a bug, it tangles them up, waits for them to get exhausted, injects them with paralyzing venom and digestive enzymes, and lets them be dissolved from the inside, and this is hardly the cruelest fate a bug can meet. On top of that, many live in landscapes completely alien to them. Does a spider know what a faucet is, or could a moth comprehend a bug zapper? Their lives are short, brutal, and arbitrary, but they’re not able to lament their fate. They wake up every day, search for food, reproduce, then die, because that is just what life is for them.
Slugcats appear much the same at first. When you’re pulling against one of those horrid vines, and there’s nothing nearby to fight it off with, you can struggle as long as you like, but eventually it will wear you down, drag you back to it’s hole, and digest you in whatever horrid way plants gain nutrients from meat. Barring some truly unfortunate cosmic events, none of us are likely to experience anything like that in our lifetimes, but it is a story that is happening around us every day. Personally, I reckon we’re closer in time to our ancestors living that kind of life than any kind of bodily immortality, so a window into that perspective is useful for understanding our context in the world.
And to be explicit about my comparisons with 17776 and Rain World: I see 17776 as a story about making the most of immortality, which doesn’t touch on escaping immortality despite how terrifyingly dreary parts of its world are. The parts of Rain World that explore immortality are about escaping immortality though, not touching on making the most of it despite how alien the world is, or the gameplay’s focus on individual moments. I’m not sure what to make of the comparison in totality, but I do find it interesting how it illuminates what areas each story cared about, and what ones they didn’t.
Oh, I loved the jackalopes though, as soon as I’d finished screaming XD
Since I probably framed my last post in way that wasn’t good to respond to, some other thoughts that will hopefully be more fun to discuss:
What’s y’all’s favourite area? Was probably Memory Crypts for me, for being the most alien outside the iterators, and for having a really strong theme without any new mechanics. I still have no idea what those fleshy things inside those infinite cages are.
One thing I also wanted to say was I definitely agree with Austin needing to play this game. Some of the lore pearls with Moon sounded like a Friends at the Table intro quote, real big Divine Principality energy from the Ancients.
So, I wanna respond! Spoilers in first two, spoiler safe in Re: Austin.
Re: Your Qualms
I totally get where you’re coming from, and I wanna be clear I’m not trying to convince you otherwise, but I do wanna offer an alternative perspective on where this game goes with that.
It is true that when you discover more about the world, about the lore, and about the nature of things in Rain World, there is a level of demystification that occurs. Like you said, the game is very much about being a little animal running around and trying to survive. But you then discover knowledge about something beyond that. About a greater world beyond survival and food and death. That there is something beyond all of this, another plane of existence, another plane of understanding and purpose that transcends the world you see in front of you.
But after that… you don’t stop being an animal. You don’t get to stop surviving. You don’t stop having to suffer. No matter how smart we get, no matter how wise we get, no matter how enlightened we become, we cannot escape the simple necessities of our bodies. The life of a slugcat is a difficult one. And knowing how futile all of this ends up being makes it much harder. You know there is more to life and death than this. But you still have to. Have to eat. Have to sleep. Have to try.
It makes the desire to swim deep into the depths, and disappear completely… understandable. Why would a slugcat force themselves to live through all that, forever and ever, when Nirvana is an option?
Just wanted to provide my view.
Re: Fave Area
What does it say about how much this game rules that you said that about the Memory Crypts and I’m like “im sorry the fleshy what now?” Completely missed those things. But I also am like “yeah that sounds like something this game would have.” this game is great
As for my favorite, I would probably say the Shaded Citadel just because it is so memorably terrifyingly. I hate going there, which is why it’s cool. It feels so much more nightmarish than everywhere else in that game. I think every single area in the game is awesome, though. I don’t think there’s any area that I dislike. They all have something fascinating and cool in them, and even the intro areas are really exciting and great starts to the game.
I will also encourage @Glorgu to tell his story about going through The Leg/The Wall, which is… great.
Believe me, it has taken effort to not use my paltry amount of leverage as a mod to write a letter asking one Austin Walker to play this game. I have no idea if he’d like it, frankly, as it’s a pretty polarizing game, but like… itssogood. I think the incoherence, the emergent mechanics, the unique challenges and world of the game, and the links to Buddhism are all things that could appeal to him. And I just want more people to play this game!
An alternative perspective was exactly what I wanted! I thought by focusing on the parts we differed on might be the best way to start discussing the themes, rather than just going back and forth on parts we agree are great.
So, I get where you’re coming from, but there’s a few points I want to dig into a bit more.
First off, I feel it’s understating it a bit to say you “discover” more about the world when a lot of that understanding is literally forced into your head by Five Pebbles. The game brings a theme of uplifts into the story, and while it handles it well (how terrible Five Pebbles appears, and how strong a transition between halves it has, for instance), I do feel like it’s another element that distracts the amazing core of living as an animal in a food chain.
Also, you ask why a slugcat would force themselves to keep living one particular answer comes to mind:
Sure, life may be hard, but curling up to hibernate next to the ones you love, with a full stomach of mothbats, is something the slugcat wanted, but never gets to reclaim. Sure, maybe after an eternity with their family, they still would want to transcend, but that is not something we get to see (probably because of the technical difficulties of creating a family of NPC slugcats, which is fair, but still disappointing).
All that being said, I do find your take on the game to be both solid and meaningful, and the game does go a long way to give depth to that reading. Just for me, I find questions of spirituality and purpose less interesting than questions of how we physically exist in our world. As modern humans, I see us as spending a lot of time living in the abstract; what we want to do, what we want to become, ect, and significantly less time considering ourselves as living animals, that eat and breathe and take up space, and who’ll one day die (though my perspective might be coloured by my personal circumstances, I can’t say how well that applies to other people). While the game does a good job in addressing both these angles, I feel like the second half and ending skewing towards the ‘higher’ forms of existence leaves it on the side I find less interesting.
Perhaps it would be worthwhile comparing it to both Outer Wilds and Untitled Goose Game? Comparing the themes of those games (as stars of 2019) probably played a large part in my feelings about how this game balances its themes?
I wound up absolutely blazing through the Shaded Citadel the first time through, probably because I couldn’t see enough to distract me >_< While coming back it once I’d gotten my square and glow let me know how scary it should have been, I didn’t wind up experiencing the spiderpedes first hand. I am not looking forward to it if I ever choose to replay the game though
I would love to hear @Glorgu’s story about going through the Leg, though wouldn’t want to pressure him or anything!
With regards to reasons-to-live, I agree with you! Despite my interpretation, I don’t think annihilation is the answer to a slugcat’s problems. And again, I’m not even remotely spiritual. But this is why I ultimately find Rain World to be so haunting, because it is, in the end, a kind of tragedy.
I guess my point (which I got a bit distracted from) was this: what I think is effective about that mid-late game transformation is that, despite your slugcat’s “enlightenment”, the game does not stop being about surviving. Slugcat is still bound to its body’s needs and pains. Slugcat is still an animal. And so are we.